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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Upload issues

Sorry folks.  I have several recipes worth of photos on my phone, but have been having issues uploading.  Nothing I try seems to work, and I am a pretty tech-savvy guy... I will have Taylor post something soon, and in the works are: fried rice, pork tacos with fresh guac and a tamale recipe that has been cooking for three days!!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


One of my favorite dishes as a child was my Mama's enchiladas. As soon as I could reach the stove, I was helping boil chicken, shred cheese, and fry and roll tortillas. Here's my version of her recipe, with a few alternatives to mix things up!

Time: About an hour

Cost: $8 for 10 enchiladas

Difficulty: 3

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ham and cheese quesadillas

Back from 18 holes of disc golf, and hungry.  Time for a quick lunch.  In fact, I can't believe I'm taking time to take pictures... at least I can get the writing done later...

Quesadillas used to be more of a staple in our household, until we shifted gears with the health level of what we put into our bodies.  Seeing as how cheese is somewhere around eighty percent milkfat, it's not a good idea to base an entire food item around it.  However, it is really delicious, and in moderation, like most things, it's good for you (remember, your body does need fats to be healthy, you just have to watch how much, and what kinds)

This is also here to show that a quick and easy lunch doesn't have to involve fast food or frozen anything (actually, I NEVER eat fast 'food'... I am of the mind that it should be outlawed, and not hold the right to be called food, since there are no nutrients involved)

With all of that said, lets move on to a positive thought... like delicious ham and cheese quesadillas!

Time: 15 minutes
Cost $2
Difficulty: 2

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jambalaya! Sparks style.....

We kinda went meat crazy while shopping this week and got more than we normally eat.  To use some of it up, I think I'll make one of the family favorites and throw together a pot of jambalaya.... Of course, I'm allergic to shellfish, so it will lack shrimp or other crustaceans that people love so much.  This is a hearty, spicy melange of rice and beans with a few different meats.  Great on cold days, or to stretch a small amount of meat to feed a family (or if you're like us, and just don't like every meal to be heavy on the meats.)

A simple one pot meal that takes little effort to be outstanding.  Also, like most things we make, be creative and change it up.  Heck, I won't link the vegetarians here, because of the amount of meat and meat products in this version, but you could make an all veggie version of this as well, simply substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock, and use heartier veggies like chunks of portabello, beets, carrots, cauliflower and turnips, chick peas and other beans; I just might have to try that.....

Cost: around $7 for the potful
Time: About an hour
Difficulty: 2

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Matzo Ball Soup. The Miracle Cure.

Whenever someone in this house gets sick, it's time for soup.  Not sure what it is about a hearty chicken soup that makes flu germs flee like a politician from the truth, but it sure seems to do the trick.  Hell, sometimes I think my kids feign illness just so I'll make soup.  To heck with an apple, a bowl of hearty stock full of chicken, veggies and matzo balls will keep the doctor away, unless, of course, you know the doctor, and they know about your soup.  Then they'll never get out of your hair...

Hot bowl of magic right here.
If you've made the stock in advance, this soup is pretty much a matter of chopping everything up and dropping it in hot stock.  But there's still a step by step after the jump.  Just hit that 'Read more' button down there...

I felt like a basic soup this time, but don't limit yourself to the ingredients I have here.  Yellow squash is wonderful, as is rice, wild rice, pasta, turnips, chard, spinach, broccoli... I could go on and on...

Time: 45 minutes to an hour
Cost: $8 for a good sized pot
Difficulty: 2

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pork chops, squash and honey carrots

First off, hello!

My name is Taylor, and I am Shawn's daughter. As you know, my dad is a wonderful cook. Lucky for me, I got the awesome cooking gene from all sides of my family! Growing up surrounded by chefs, I was taught to cook at a very young age, and have loved working in the kitchen ever since.

For my first dish on this blog, I decided to make pork chops, honey carrots, sauteed zucchini, and garlic toast. Simple and inexpensive, yet delicious.

Total prep time: 5-10 minutes
Total cook time: About 20 minutes
Difficulty: 2
Cost: $5 for 3 portions

An inside stock tip: Make it from scratch

One of the staple ingredients in the Sparks household is chicken stock.  We make it roughly every two weeks from our scraps, and it fuels things like rice, adds a base to soups and flavors simple recipes.  When a recipe here calls for stock, this is what we use... 

Chicken stock in 8 and 16oz jars ready to jazz up simple meals
Home made stock is so much better than the factory made stuff and it takes all of fifteen minutes of attention to make (While it does simmer for 2-3 hrs, you can be doing other things, so I don't count that time).   We can keep the sodium at nearly 0, and the flavor at 11.  Yes the flavor goes to 11. Seriously, from scraps to stock in about fifteen minutes of work.

Time: 15 min (2-3 hrs to simmer, but no attention really needed)
Cost: FREE!!!! It's made from scraps
Difficulty: 1 - They should change the phrase to 'Easy as Stock"